Archive for December, 2009

Oil, oil and more oil

Posted: December 17, 2009 in Uncategorized

Middle east oil pipelines under construction or to begin construction in the near future.

Considering that some parties – including Russia and China – may consider tying currency to oil, these pipelines, the oil beneath the Caspian Sea and who owns it are even more interesting subjects.

For more about these pipelines and what lead to my curiosity about them some weeks ago, click here for my Talk With Bette article, “Smokescreen.”

The decline of the almighty dollar
Armstrong Williams, The Hill 15 Dec 2009

… the recklessness of our current fiscal policy is causing other sophisticated global players to get fed up…

BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), let me introduce BRIC-plus-1 and rename it CRIBS, (adding South Africa) is already looking to create the next largest world currency — one that will be pegged to oil.

This will be an extreme threat to the dollar, because trading oil in dollars is one thing that gives that currency much of its value.

“Follow the money” is always good advice. Money / power / control… lots to be had in and around the Caspian Sea. It’s not only Middle Eastern nuclear power (weaponry) they’re interested in controlling.

Iran to drill Caspian Sea for oil soon
Tehran Times 8 Dec 2009

According to estimates, the southern part of the Caspian Sea holds at least 32 billion barrels of oil reserves.

Iran to privatize northern oil exploration rights
Tehran Times 11 Aug 2009

Photo caption: Recently launched Iran-Alborz oil exploration platform in the Caspian Sea.

The Iranian Privatization Organization has been given the rights to privatize 80 percent of the rights to explore oil in the country’s northern sector and the Caspian Sea.

“Privatize,” right.

Turkey… US vs Iran

Posted: December 11, 2009 in Uncategorized

Obama seeks Turkey’s support on Iran nuclear issue
Christian Science Monitor 5 Dec 09

As Obama mulls sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program, he meets Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the White House today. Ankara’s rising economic ties with Tehran could undercut sanctions.

As international concern grows over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, President Obama will on Monday seek to engage Turkey – a rising power in Mideast diplomacy and member of the United Nations Security Council – in the West’s effort to prevent the Islamic Republic from developing nuclear weapons.

Iran, Turkey Discuss Regional, Int’l Developments
Fars News 5 Dec 09

TEHRAN (FNA)- Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Saeed Jalili discussed different issues of mutual interest and also the regional and international developments with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

During the meeting, Jalili called for effective cooperation among regional nations to pave the way for confronting the world big powers.

Soviet Star Wars

Posted: December 10, 2009 in nuclear weapons, Russia
Tags: ,

The launch that saved the world from orbiting laser battle stations
Air & Space Magazine

(This is a lengthy article but the most interesting to me is this last section…)
The rocket was rolled out to the launch pad and hoisted to the vertical launch position. Then, on the night of May 15, 1987, Energia’s engines lit and the giant rocket climbed into the sky. Whereas most launches from Baikonur head for an orbit inclined 52 degrees to the equator, Polyus-Skif traveled farther north, on a 65-degree inclination. If the worst happened, this heading would keep rocket stages and debris—or the entire Skif-DM—from falling on foreign territory.

The Energia rocket performed flawlessly, gaining speed as it rose and arced out toward the northern Pacific. But the kludged nature of the Skif–DM test spacecraft, along with all the compromises and shortcuts, spelled its doom. The satellite’s functional block had originally been designed for the Proton launcher, and couldn’t withstand the vibration of the Energia’s more powerful engines. The solution had been to mount the spacecraft with the control block at the top instead of down near the engines. Essentially, it flew into space upside down. Once the spacecraft separated from its booster, it was supposed to flip around to point away from Earth, with the control block’s engines facing down toward Earth, ready to fire and push the craft into orbit.

Skif-DM separated on cue, the spent Energia fell away, and the protective shroud over the front of the spacecraft separated. Then the entire spacecraft, as tall as a 12-story building, began its gentle pitch maneuver. Its tail end, actually the front of the spacecraft, swung up through 90 degrees, through 180 degrees…then kept going. The massive spacecraft tumbled end over end for two full revolutions, then stopped with its nose pointing down toward Earth. In the rush to launch such a complicated spacecraft, the designers had missed a tiny software error. The engines fired, and Skif-DM headed back into the atmosphere it had just escaped, quickly overheating and breaking into burning pieces over the Pacific Ocean.

(This is interesting to me today because of the following, also about a failed Russian launch.)

Anyone for some Arctic roll? Mystery as spiral blue light display hovers above Norway
Daily Mail Online 10 Dec 2009

The Bulava missile was test-fired from the Dmitry Donskoi submarine in the White Sea early on Wednesday but failed at the third stage, say newspapers in Moscow today.

A Russian military source said today that ‘the third stage of the rocket did not work’. The Russian Defence Ministry, with characteristic secrecy, has so far been unavailable for comment.

The Bulava, despite being crucial to Russia’s plans to revamp its weaponry, is becoming an embarrassment after nine failed launches in 13 tests, prompting calls for it to be scrapped. In theory, it has a range of 5,000 miles and could carry up to ten nuclear weapons bound for separate targets.

A previous failure in July forced the resignation of Yury Solomonov, the director of the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology which is responsible for developing the missile. However, he is now working as chief designer on the jinxed project.

The Norwegian Meteorological Institute was flooded with telephone calls after the light storm yesterday morning. Totto Eriksen, from Tromsø, told VG Nett: ‘It spun and exploded in the sky.’ He spotted the lights as he walked his daughter Amalie to school.

He said: ‘We saw it from the Inner Harbor in Tromsø. It was absolutely fantastic. ‘It almost looked like a rocket that spun around and around and then went diagonally down the heavens.’

Read more:

1987, 2009… looks like they haven’t quite perfected things…

Here are two articles about Iran’s nuclear activities that I came across today.

Nuclear detector set up on Iran border
Jerusalem Post 4 Dec 2009

… UN agency completing a nuclear test detection station in Turkmenistan, just a few kilometers from the Iranian border.

The PS44 installation is the 337th facility of the International Monitoring System. It was set up by the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), a network of stations across the globe that monitors the atmosphere to detect nuclear blasts by countries secretly testing nuclear weapons. PS44 is expected to be operational by 2010, once it has been tested.

Iran successfully simulates nuclear warhead detonation

DEBKAfile Special Report 4 December 2009

German intelligence reports that Iranian scientists have successfully simulated the detonation of a nuclear warhead in laboratory conditions, in an effort to sidestep an underground nuclear test like the one that brought the world down on North Korea’s head earlier this year.

DEBKAfile’s Iranian and intelligence sources report that this development is alarming because detonation is one of the most difficult technological challenges in the development of a nuclear weapon. Mastering it carries Iran past one of the last major obstacles confronting its program for the manufacture of a nuclear warhead.

Two articles about Iran’s Natanz facility caught my eye today:

(1) Day of reckoning for Iran: The decision-point on the nuclear weapons program is upon us

By Micah Zenko
NY Daily News 25 Nov 2009

… No, Iran has not yet produced the 35 pounds of highly enriched uranium required to fuel a bomb at its well-known, well-inspected facility in Natanz. But there are probably additional hidden facilities like the one near Qom. As a U.S. senior intelligence official told Sanger years before that facility came to light: “None of us believe they will create weapons-grade fuel at Natanz. What they are producing at Natanz is a body of knowledge there that they can transfer elsewhere.” It turns out this was correct.

… In the real world, it is unlikely that Israel will wait months and months for this latest initiative to succeed, or more likely fail. Therefore, the world should prepare for a high-risk Israeli military attack on Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons facilities, catalyzing a wave of further instability in an already volatile region.


(2) Official: Iran to Upgrade Centrifuges in Natanz
Fars News 2 December 2009

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran is due to boost the quality of centrifuge machines at its first enrichment facility in the central city of Natanz…

Iran has so far installed 7,000 centrifuges at its uranium enrichment site in Natanz and 25,000 centrifuges are in the preliminary phases of installation. Planning has also been done for the production of more than 52,000 centrifuges and these centrifuges are now under production inside the country.

“We are seeking to promote the quality of centrifuges as the type of these centrifuges is more important than their number,” Baqeri said. (Iranian Undersecretary for Foreign Policy Affairs Ali Baqeri.)